At its 66th Plenary Session, held December 13th and 14th, 2016, the Administrative Conference adopted four new recommendations. From the Federal Register notice, which is on public inspection today, these four recommendations include:
Recommendation 2016-3, Special Procedural Rules for Social Security Litigation in District Court. This recommendation encourages the Judicial Conference of the United States to develop a uniform set of procedural rules for cases under the Social Security Act in which an individual seeks district court review of a final administrative decision of the Commissioner of Social Security pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). It also highlights areas in which such rules should be adopted and sets forth criteria for the promulgation of additional rules.
Recommendation 2016-4, Evidentiary Hearings Not Required by the Administrative Procedure Act. This recommendation offers best practices to agencies for structuring evidentiary hearings that are not required by the Administrative Procedure Act. It suggests ways to ensure the integrity of the decisionmaking process; sets forth recommended pre-hearing, hearing, and post-hearing practices; and urges agencies to describe their practices in a publicly accessible document and seek periodic feedback on those practices.
Recommendation 2016-5, The Use of Ombuds in Federal Agencies. This recommendation takes account of the broad array of federal agency ombuds offices that have been established since the Administrative Conference’s adoption in 1990 of Recommendation 90-2 on the same subject, https://www.acus.gov/recommendation/ombudsman-federal-agencies. The new recommendation continues to urge both agencies and Congress to consider creating additional ombuds offices that provide an opportunity for individuals to raise issues confidentially and receive assistance in resolving them without fear of retribution. The recommendation emphasizes the importance of adherence to the three core standards of independence, confidentiality, and impartiality, and identifies best practices for the operation, staffing, and evaluation of federal agency ombuds offices.
Recommendation 2016-6, Self-Represented Parties in Administrative Proceedings. This recommendation offers best practices for agencies dealing with self-represented parties in administrative proceedings. Recommendations include the use of triage and diagnostic tools, development of a continuum of services to aid parties, and re-evaluation and simplification of existing administrative proceedings, where possible. The project builds on the activity of a working group on Self-Represented Parties in Administrative Hearings that is co-led by the Administrative Conference and the Department of Justice’s Office for Access to Justice.
In keeping with the Administrative Conference’s practice, the full, official text of these recommendations is included in the Federal Register notice.
This post is part of the Administrative Conference Update series, which highlights new and continuing projects, upcoming committee meetings, proposed and recently adopted recommendations, and other news about the Administrative Conference of the United States. The series is further explained here, and all posts in the series can be found here.